The importance of "winning" is a hot topic in both middle school and high school sports.
Not many years ago, winning was the bottom line on the high school varsity level, no matter how it was accomplished. Coaches who lost were soon without jobs.
In recent years, some have stepped forward to say that maybe the concept of winning should be reevaluated.
The Payson High School track and field coaching staff of Chuck Hardt, Pete Greer and Norm Langeliers have come up with an interesting coaching philosophy called "Athletes first, winning second."
The coaches explained to their athletes exactly what the philosophy meant when practices opened this season.
It went like this: "We are not suggesting that winning is unimportant. Winning, or more accurately, striving to win, is essential to enjoyable competition. To play sports without striving to win is to be a dishonest competitor. As educators and coaches, it is our job to push you toward becoming your best.
"When winning is kept in perspective, sports programs produce athletes who enjoy movement, who strive for excellence, who dare to risk error to learn and who grow from both praise and constructive criticism. When winning is kept in perspective, there is room for fun in the pursuit of victory, or more accurately, the pursuit of victory is fun."
The coaches wrapped up their philosophy by saying that every decision they make is based on what they think is best for the athlete, and second, on what may improve the athlete's or team's chances of winning.
Grand Canyon Games
Payson High School wrestling coach Dave LaMotte took a trio of middle school wrestlers to the Grand Canyon Games held at Mesa Red Mountain High School last weekend. All three returned with medals.
Zack Lee was first in the 105-pound class. Larry Wilbanks was second among the 100-pounders and Matt McCarty the runner-up in the 95-pound class.
Crappie fishing good
A group of northern Arizona anglers stopped in Pine to refuel Sunday evening and reported their weekend trip to Roosevelt was a successful one. The fishermen, who have been visiting the lake four or five times a year for the last decade, said they found good crappie fishing in the Cholla portions of the lake. Their report almost exactly corresponds with the Arizona Game and Fish Department's weekly report. Fish are being caught in 30 to 40 feet of water on Power Grubs.
Bass fishing is reported to be improving. The fishermen said they used an electric trolling motor to cruise the shoreline of coves in shallow water. They used a spinning rig with light line and cast Gitzits. Hard and soft jerkbaits are also beginning to work in shallow water.
Not all bass are shallow -- some are also in deeper water.
Sitko in Pinetop
Old-timers in town will remember former Payson High School and assistant wrestling coach Bruce Sitko.
Bruce is now the information and education program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department and is stationed in the Pinetop office.
One of his duties is to provide updates on the status of the re-introduction of Mexican gray wolves in eastern Arizona. Bruce has to compile reports on the Campbell, Blue, Hawks Nest, Strayhorse and Pipestem packs.
According to his latest report, the Campbell Blue -- a male and female -- have remained together since their release in December 1998 and are currently the only free-ranging wolves in Arizona.
Sounds like he's involved is some pretty interesting stuff.